Excerpt from THE BUSY FAMILY’S GUIDE TO SPIRITUALITY
By David Robinson
(New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009), 165-166
Let mutual love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. ~Hebrews 13:1-2 (NRSV)
When I’ve visited a European cathedral I’ve often had the feeling that the inside is bigger than the outside. Step through the door of any cathedral and look up into the high vaulted ceilings and the brilliance of the rose windows. Family spirituality, like a cathedral, invites us to step into a life of hospitality. We can practice hospitality in a way that welcomes strangers and friends into our hearts—hearts that are expansive, open places filled with love and light. The more space we make for God in our hearts, the greater capacity we have to welcome others into our lives. As you bring hospitality practices into your family life you will discover greater capacity for welcoming others.
Living in a time of tremendous unrest and instability in the early sixth century Italy, Benedict had the boldness to warmly welcome strangers at his monastery gates. All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ (RB, 53). The monasteries that sprouted up across the landscape of Europe became places of true refuge and welcome for the busy, the weary, the poor, and the homeless. Anyone who needed a bed and a meal was welcomed, not merely as another mouth to feed, but as though God himself had asked for a night’s lodging.
Hospitable homes offer love to guests in practical ways, regardless of their wealth or status, without showing favoritism. Throughout the Bible, we read about God’s heart of mercy for the poor, the widow, the outcast, and anyone in need. Benedict echoes this concern. Great care and concern are to be shown in receiving poor people and pilgrims, because in them more particularly Christ is received; our very awe of the rich guarantees them special respect (RB, 53). Benedictine monasteries today always feature a guesthouse to welcome guests, putting into practice the principles of hospitality taught by Benedict in the Rule fifteen centuries ago. Every time I’ve visited a monastery, I’ve been warmly welcomed by the monks and made to feel as though my life was greatly valued.Family spirituality invites us to give special place in our hearts not only to friends and relatives, but also to the poor, the homeless, and the needy.